SSDI: FAQ

Social Security Disability Insurance – Frequently Asked Questions



1. How can I qualify for SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance?

A. You must be mentally or physically disabled because of an injury or a disease which prevents you from ever working. Your doctor should state that you are disabled and cannot work. You cannot have a short term disability. Also, you must have once worked long enough to pay money into Social Security from your paychecks. If not, you can apply for SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, which normally goes to persons of low income.

2. Does my age matter?

A. Yes. If you’re 65, you cannot qualify for disability benefits but rather can receive standard Social Security benefits. But if you’re younger, you can apply for SSDI at any age, provided you qualify by virtue of having a disability and having once worked and paid into the Social Security system.

3. How can I apply for such disability benefits?

A. You can apply for SSDI at your local Social Security office, online at www.ssa.gov or by phone at 1-800-772-1213.

4. Is there a time limit to apply?

A. No. Even so, you should apply promptly because it could take two years to be approved. On the upside, if approved you’ll be paid the money you would have received while waiting, in addition to money for up to a year before you filed, provided you were disabled during that time.

5. What if my claim is denied?

A. You can appeal, but must do so within 60 days of the date on your denial letter. Your appeal may lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge, whose decision may be delivered between two weeks or two months.

6. What if my appeal is turned down?

A. You can appeal again, this time to the Social Security Appeals Council. If that doesn’t work, you can file a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in federal court.

7. Why are three-fourths of claims denied — even when doctors say the claimant is disabled?

A. Social Security has rules and procedures which go far beyond your doctor’s views. Only Social Security can deem whether you are unable to perform work to which you’re accustomed or work which is less demanding but for which you could be trained.

8. Do I have to have an attorney to make an appeal?

A. No, but you have a far better change of succeeding with an experienced SSDI lawyer at your side. You’ll also need a lawyer if your case goes to court.

9. Does it matter in which state I live?

A. Not at all. Social Security is a federal program that’s the same in all states.

10. What if I’m already getting workers compensation, private insurance money or payments for a military disability?

A. None of those things has a bearing on Social Security disability payments, which won’t be denied or reduced as a result.

11. Can my children receive some of my SSDI benefits?

A. Certainly. Any child in high school and under age 22, or any child under age 18, can receive a benefit equal to half of the amount that you receive for your disability.

12. Can you help me?

A. Of course we can. But we need you to contact our law firm first.

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